Cape Town - Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande has announced free data allocations for all students currently receiving NSFAS funding. Each student will receive 10GB of daytime data and this will be subsidised by government from June to August.
Nzimande made the announcement while briefing the media on Saturday on the further measures his department is taking in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nzimande explained that NSFAS students continue to receive funding from government. He also acknowledged that students need a large amount of data to achieve their studies.
"We have successfully negotiated with networks", says Nzimande, and therefore data bundles will be made available to NSFAS students.
The minister said he had consulted with teacher unions, post-school training institutions and has received consultations from the South African Covid-19 task teams.
Nzimande said that universities have created plans to ensure that campuses will begin to open and that these plans have been submitted to Cabinet, with costings, for implementation from June 1
He noted that funding will be reprioritised as a special Covid-response grant for higher education institutions.
Nzimande also said that government is working on developing a of a loan scheme, with the private sector, to assist middle income students.
Government will make sure that free digital content will be made available specifically to TVET students.
"Students who don't have technology resources will have paper learning material delivered to them, based on each university's assessment", Nzimande said.
It should also be noted that government is committed to ensuring all NSFAS students have appropriate laptops, and this in some areas, have already being rolled out, according to the minister.
Nzimande said that under level 3, a maximum of 33% of students will be allowed back on campus, with final year students prioritised.
It is the hope by government that students will gradually return to campuses at various levels of lockdown. At level 4, only final year students in clinical training will return, according to the minister.
Postgraduate students who need access to laboratory equipment may return to campus under level 3, Nzimande said.
According to government, institutions will recall students only after their district level has been announced, with a 3 weeks delay before students will return to campus.
Minister Nzimande said that the 3 week delay in returning to campus will allow students to travel. Government will provide permits to identified students.
This is a developing story...